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NAS Whidbey Island Military Youth of the Year Award Winner


01/27/16 12:00 AM

NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. – Last Thursday, Child & Youth Programs (CYP) presented the NAS Whidbey Island Boys & Girls Clubs of America Military Youth of the Year Award to one of three members.  

The three teens competing for the honor were Gary Garstin, freshman at Oak Harbor High School and a member for two years; Joshua Garstin, Sophomore at Oak Harbor High School and member for two years; and Ashley Serna, Junior at Oak Harbor High School and member of five years.

In order to meet the minimum requirements of the initial package the teens had to be in good academic standing, be a member of the Youth Center, and provide a list of service work all while hitting the mark on the Youth of the Year’s theme: Lead. Succeed. Inspire.

The three teen members had to present their package before a private, 3-person panel supported by CMC John Hermandorfer (VP-1), Brenda Kovach (School Liaison Officer), and Christina Sparks (Child Development Homes Director). During the judging, individual interviews were conducted as well as a speech explaining why they felt they should be the Military Youth of the Year.  After presenting to the judging panel, Keystone Club (the Youth Center’s High School Service Club), prepared and served a dinner for 31 place settings.

The pressure was still on the shoulders of Gary Garstin, Joshua Garstin, and Ashley Serna, as they patiently waited for everyone to finish dinner in order to present their speeches to the group.

Out of the three speeches, there were common threads of pride as the teens explained the amazing free trip they won last summer through CNIC and 4-H Club Sponsorship to Savannah, Ga. Each teen took away something special from the trip, from learning the history of the area to holding snakes and petting horseshoe crabs for the first time.

“What we do may not just affect us but a plant or an animal as well,” Gary Garstin said when explaining the importance of Marine Biology and what he had learned on last summer’s trip.

 “I met so many great friends and I learned to break out of my shell,” Serna said.

After the 3 teens presented their three speeches, there was not a dry eye in the room. Dave Thomason, Keynote Speaker, who works at the Youth Center every Thursday said, “It is a singular privilege to work with these kids and it has restored my faith in humanity.”

“You weren’t given the opportunity to succeed, you created the opportunity,” Thomason said.